Extremists Poised to Continue Using Vehicles in Operations (UPDATED)

Terrorists—particularly homegrown violent extremists (HVEs)—will likely continue using vehicles as weapons based on foreign terrorist organizations promoting this tactic, the success of past attacks, and the ease of vehicle acquisition. An NJOHSP review of vehicle-ramming attacks in the West over the last 10 years shows increases in this tactic and resulting casualties.

  • On August 9, a man rammed a BMW into soldiers belonging to the 35th regiment—a unit associated with counterterrorism operations—injuring six in Levallois-Perret, France. In December, Anis Amri drove a hijacked truck into a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 and injuring 56, and in July, Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel attacked a Bastille Day celebration with a 20-ton cargo truck in Nice, France, killing 86 people and injuring 434.

  • In the November 2016 edition of its English-language magazine, Rumiyah, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria encouraged followers to use vehicles in operations, stating, "Vehicles are like knives, as they are extremely easy to acquire [and] . . . arouse absolutely no doubts due to their widespread use throughout the world." Additionally, al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula has referred to trucks as the "ultimate mowing machine."

  • In November 2016, Abdul Artan drove his car into pedestrians and stabbed several people on Ohio State University’s campus. According to Artan’s family, he displayed no suspicious behavior before carrying out the attack and purchased a knife that same morning.

Since 2007, vehicles were used in 17 attacks in the West, including five at large outdoor public gatherings during celebrations and holidays, underscoring the need for perimeter controls at outdoor events.

  • NJOHSP’s resource sheet provides information for large outdoor events. Additionally, the Office’s Hometown Security Initiative trains and educates facility owners and operators on protective security measures and how to report suspicious activity.

For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Analysis Bureau at analysis@njohsp.gov or 609-584-4000.